As the number of tourists to Guam increases, a restaurant is anticipating increased sales from visitors from around the world and another dining establishment is reopening.
The island’s economy relies heavily on the tourism industry, which took a hit starting in March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit Guam’s shores.
But the island’s tourism industry appears to be picking up.
The Guam Visitors Bureau reported in August that tourist arrivals were up 16% from forecast.
Dave Alcorn, owner of the GFS Group, which runs King’s and Ruby Tuesday’s restaurant and holds a number of military contracts, said his businesses had not been heavily impacted in the past two years since the global pandemic began. .
“It’s actually quite interesting that our sales aren’t too bad considering there are few to no tourists on the island at the moment,” Alcorn said. “When it comes to the tourism sector, obviously we’ve all felt for years that it’s the bulk of our economy, and it kind of is, but I would say it’s mainly the driver employment demographics.
Guam consumers and relief programs, both federally and locally funded, have played a role in stabilizing operations, he noted.
“Over the past 2 1/2 years, we’ve all done pretty well,” Alcorn said. “Of course the federal aid has helped a lot, but even now with federal aid that hasn’t been available for nine or ten months and retail businesses moving forward, especially restaurants – we we’re not necessarily as profitable as we used to be but we’re still able to stay alive which is something I always thought we couldn’t survive or get by without tourists and that’s a discovery interesting that we experienced.
Anyone who drives or walks around Tumon may have noticed the growing number of tourists. For this reason, Alcorn told the Guam Daily Post that sales may increase again.
“It stands to reason that when tourists return to previous levels, pre-COVID levels, one would think that restaurants and the retail sector as a whole could experience double-digit growth for the three to four quarters. following,” Alcorn said.
“Difficult business environment”
Unfortunately, businesses such as California Pizza Kitchen, Beachin’ Shrimp, Eat Street Grill, Pika’s Cafe and Little Pika’s are still suffering from the damage to the island’s economy, according to owner Darren Talai.
“Overall, our businesses are still struggling. Sales increased slightly in June and remained fairly flat through August,” Talai said. “The cost of doing business has skyrocketed, so it’s been a very difficult business environment in recent months. We’ve seen a slight uptick with tourism restarting. However, the numbers are a far cry from 2019 numbers. Our contacts in the hospitality industry say the next couple of months aren’t looking too good from a room booking perspective, so we have some way to go in terms of economic recovery.”
He confirmed that his restaurants had seen a slight increase in tourist traffic.
“We’ve seen the return of tourists picking up, but only a trickle compared to 2019. Most are Korean tourists so far,” Talai said.
He acknowledged that his restaurants could thrive again if and when tourism picks up on the island.
“Tourism is at the heart of Guam’s economy, so yes, tourism is critical to almost every business in Guam, and more importantly, creating jobs for the people of Guam,” Talai said.
IHOP in Tumon reopens this month
Meanwhile, with the tourism industry steadily on the rise, a restaurant will once again offer its menu to Guam residents and visitors.
After more than 2.5 years, IHOP in Tumon will soon be reopening.
IHOP, geared towards the tourism market, recently held a job fair aimed at hiring 30 employees to fill positions such as waiters, hosts, cooks, dishwashers, supervisors and manager.
Shenniel Jalos, general manager of the Tumon IHOP site, said the restaurant hopes to reopen later this month.
The planned reopening is attributed to increased tourist arrivals.
“There are definitely a lot, but I currently work at LongHorn Steakhouse more than at IHOP and there our tourist numbers are higher than local,” Jalos said. “I don’t think it has anything to do with the locals not coming. It’s just that there is so much tourism. So every day our average number of tourists is 150. And every week we have at least 1,500 tourists coming to our restaurant. Obviously if you think about it, if they can come and eat here, I know there’s more there. And we intended to open it anyway. It’s just, I think, the perfect time to start and encourage everyone to open up.
“We will always stay safe”
Even with Guam recording nearly 600 cases of COVID-19 last week, according to figures provided by the Joint Information Center, IHOP isn’t too worried about the virus pushing back its reopening plans.
“It’s always our concern, but you know, we’ll take extra precautions and adapt to the times,” she said. “And then move on from COVID and we’re still going to stay safe and take the precautions that we need to. But other than that, hopefully we’ll just move on.
The creperie, located in Tumon, was the only local franchise restaurant to close.